The boss of Carnival Corporation, Micky Arison, has hit back at claims by a crisis management expert that the company handled the sinking of the Costa Concordia appallingly.

MediaHouse executive chairman Jack Irvine described the handling of the Costa Concordia disaster as “appalling” in a presentation to the Institute of Travel and Tourism conference in Barbados today.

Irvine told the conference: “Where did they go wrong? Everywhere. Carnival chief executive Micky Arison was nowhere to be seen. It was very badly handled.

“They should have put up a spokesperson. They should have apologised. They should have got the trade bodies involved to say the industry is safe and well run. There will be a manual written on the Concordia on how not to handle a crisis.”

However, Arison responded on Twitter: “I think @costacrociere’s fast recovery speaks for itself.”

Carnival UK sales and customer delivery director Giles Hawke told Travel Weekly: “Irvine said there were things that should have happened that didn’t, and things that did happen which shouldn’t have.

“I don’t dispute it could have been done better, but he has a lot of his facts wrong and was talking with limited knowledge of what really went on.

“The company apologised immediately, the number two in Costa and the number two from Carnival Howard Franks, were on the island immediately.

“The Passenger Shipping Association and Cruise Lines International Association were both involved. We do have crisis management manuals and regular mock emergency response drills.”

Irvine argued the company should have offered crew members for interview. He said: “No one put the crew up for interview. Crew members saved people’s lives. It would have reflected well on the company.

“The lesson for the wider cruise industry is you must have a disaster recovery plan in place.”